Order of edits?


hear me roar
Staff member
Supporting Member
Mar 18, 2013
Reaction score
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I’m curious what order other people use when they’re editing their photos. I have always saved the sharpening and the noise reduction for last but in a recent thread somebody mentioned that they did that first. Just curious everybody’s order of edits, this is mine:

Local brush adjustments
Noise reduction
Also, if you don’t edit and like your images SOOC, please scroll on by - no need to comment if you’re not discussing editing order.
I edit parametrically for 99% of my photos in which case edit order doesn't matter. I only sharpen an image when I use it and then sharpen for the specific use.
I’m curious what order other people use when they’re editing their photos. I have always saved the sharpening and the noise reduction for last but in a recent thread somebody mentioned that they did that first. Just curious everybody’s order of edits, this is mine:
I edit in the sequence in which the user interface is laid out in the application I am using at the time. Then I iterate back and forth between settings to find the best trade-off across settings. For example, if I am pulling up the shadows I will see how that increases noise Then I will experiment with noise reduction and asses if I can still get away with a bit of sharpening. I almost never adjust exposure even on a shot that was intentionally underexposed favoring other methods for brightening shadows, etc. So in short, it is interative until I think I struck the right balance. I suspect that most of us, even if we have a preferred initial flow do the same thing in the end.
If it's a film scan, I tend to do dust removal first. Regardless, I do sharpening last as well.

What goes in between those two steps is very dependent on what the photo is, what I'm trying to achieve, and what the photo needs in order to achieve that, so I have no set order for edits.

What I can almost guarantee is one of my middle steps, however, is bitching and moaning about how editing color photos is a total mind**** and why don't I just stick to B&W which I'm probably better at anyway, or go all funky cross-processed color, because I've stared at the photo on this *%#$_(#& screen way too ^*#(&$@ long and my eyes hurt and time or space or color has no meaning anymore, and do I have any beer left?
Remove dust
Double shot
Darkroom dishes
Oh crap more dust
Double shot
Make some short rolls (12 exp)
Check ebay
Scale ;export
Pass out
When I edit I tend to do it pretty much at random, but sharpening is generally left till the end (the degree needed depends on the output after all).
Much of the editing will depend on the image, with IR shots I often play with the hue drastically (near total reverse) but many other shots don't see that tweaked at all...
This is what I do for my high school sports pics.

For tennis, I will organize the pictures by players; singles (1,2,3,4), doubles, (1,2,3,4,5,6), BEFORE I edit.
I found that it is mentally easier for me to deal with a smaller number of pics of one player vs. couple thousand pics of all the players.

First are the culls. You know the mistakes, like the shot of my foot. Then OOF, blocked subjects, embarrassing images, etc.
The goal here is to "try" to bring 1,000 - 3,000 shots down to 200 - 500. Often I don't reach that goal and have to do that in edit or post edit.

In editing I will evaluate the images again, and decide which to edit, and which to skip.
- Level. A LOT of my sport images are not level, because when I move and shoot, leveling the camera is not a priority.
- Crop
- Exposure; usually lighten shadows first, boost dull highlights, etc.
- White balance.
- Depending on the image, I may have to do some minor exposure adjustment after correcting the WB.
- Sharpen
- Save. When I save, I will save with the jersey number in front of the file name. ie. 10-NDS1234.JPG. This sorts all the pics of player #10 together, and makes the next step easier.

Post edit I will look for dupes or near dupes, to eliminate the dupes.
For sports where I can identify the players, I will evaluate the number of pics of each player. Players with too many pics, will have some of the pics deleted, to "try" to balance out the number of pics for each player. So I don't have 30 pics of one player and only 2 of another player.
For players with only one or a few pics, I will sometimes go back into the culls or cropped pics, to look for more pics of them. Again to try to balance out the number of pics of each player.
Last edited:
i made a lr preset that does my usual edits, sharpening, clarity, etc.. on import. i'll go through and adjust those settings when i need to after. in ps i'll do the rest of the editing, but i don't resize or sharpen anything. i'll resize and sharpen a copy of the photo when i need to for a specific purpose, resize first, sharpen last.
Profile color
Lens correction
White balance
Exposure (sometimes I reverse and do White balance after Exposure)
Dehase to add contrast or contrast
Chroma fix if needed
may play with the white slider or the shadow slider

retouch face if needed
stray hair
retouch background if needed such as a distracting blob or OOF blobs or remove leash on the pups
may add a little more warmth or any color correction I forgot in ACR
Denoise with Nik

I don't do everything listed in PS, only if needed
In LR, I typically start with white balance and exposure - once you get those right, everything else follows. If the exposure is way off, I'll correct that first, otherwise white balance and tint are my starting points. From there, I work my way down the tone and presence panels in order. I save the more computationally heavy tasks like spot healing, adjustment brushes, and radial filters for the end, since too many of these edits will slow down any system eventually, might as well get the rest of the processing out of the way first.

Lastly I will crop and straighten as needed and occasionally add a vignette, either using the effects panel or a radial filter. However if I plan to continue editing in Photoshop, I will skip these until after final edits have been completed. Most of my work in photoshop is retouching, spot healing, and content aware fill for more complex object removal or extending backgrounds. I do my best to make everything non-destructive and use separate layers or smart objects where appropriate. I will say that I try to keep things entirely in LR if I can, as this ensures I can go back and undo or redo any part of post processing. For example, once I start doing spot healing in PS, I can't got back to the original Raw file and tweak the white balance, and of course once anything has been cropped beforehand, it's just gone in the final edit.

In short, my workflow is designed around saving computationally heavy processing that will bog my system down until the end, and doing everything as non-destructively and reversibly as possible.
I am with @photoflyer as I usually edit in sequence using Camera Raw in PS, saving sharpening and noise reduction last unless the shadows or highlights get clipped according to the histogram. I will then go back and adjust curves or basic shadows/blacks and highlights/whites until I am satisfied with how it looks or the histogram is acceptable. If I like the look I get, the histogram is forgotten, lol.
I do any re-sizing first, local corrections next, global corrections next, and any sharpening last.

In-between, I try to do things that reduce the gamut to near the end. This includes especially global contrast correction and to a lesser extent, colour correction.

For example, if you're woking on contrast, and you have luminosity values of between 128 and 255 in your high-key image, if you "correct" the contrast to go from 0 to 255, you end up having "holes" in your gamut — in this case, all even or all odd values may be missing. This can produce banding or solarization.

But for 95% of images, a lot of this would just be obsessive. I only worry much about order when working with "difficult" images.
I was just doing some edits of a lacrosse game.
- I did a basic exposure adjustment,
- Then I had to do a white balance adjustment (because they were going in and out of the shade of the trees)
- The I did another exposure adjustment (the WB adjustment sometimes changed the illumination level on the faces).

I had to do this to MANY of the images. Much more than I usually do.
So the image itself may drive what you do in what order.
I always start out with highlights and shadows.

I do sharpening last simply because I remember reading tips from a "pro" way back when and that was the suggestion. There were reasons listed but I don't remember them anymore.

Most reactions

New Topics